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Thread: Problem starting diesel truck when cold

  1. #1

    Problem starting diesel truck when cold

    I have a Dodge RAM 3500 diesel 2003 truck. I spent $600 trying to get this fixed to no avail. Dealer adjusted engine computer, and mechanic replaced intake manifold heater. Truck still won't start in the a. m. , even when outdoor temps. are 60-65 degrees, but it starts perfectly after one hour with the block heater plugged in. I contacted the Cummins diesel manufacturer and they say the truck should start at 40 degrees cold so they say the problem is not with the engine, but with something else in the truck. Any suggestions on what to check out next would be most appreciated.

  2. #2

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    Iv'e started mine at 40 degrees with no block heater. How about FCA? Low pressure side fuel delivery? Oh I see it's an 03 Do you have cannister mount fuel pump (this was stock) How many miles?
    2004.5 LWB 2wd , Volant cold air intake,custom H.I.D.'s w/Fogzilla 15,000 lumens forward lighting, 3" front lift ,Triple Pillar Gauges, Amsoil Dual Remote Bypass, CFM+ Intake. SMARTY JR. Straight piped, Goerend Trans parts

    Good Judgment Comes From Experience

    Experience Comes From Bad Judgment

  3. #3

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    I've started my 03 at 30* BELOW zero, not plugged in just like a warm day. When I had starting problems with the 03 it was injectors and/or crossover tubes. Also a low battery can cause starting problems .
    2012 Longhorn 3500 dually crew cab, Max Tow, White, Centramatics, Willmore 1 piece stainless boards, Reese Elite 25K Fifth, Mobile Suites 36TKSB3

  4. #4

    User Info Menu

    Describe the starting.

    Long crank but normal speed?

    Slow cranking?

    Does your intake heater even cycle? Would not be the first time a dealer replaced an item only to have the trigger (in this case your relay) for that item non functional or disconnected.

    02 3500 ETH/DEE, Jammer 3 injectors, Snow Perf. Water/Meth inject, Edge Comp, FASS, SB Clutch, Source Automotive Twins (HX35 over S400), ARP Studs, HTT 3pc Manifold, Rip Rook 4" exhaust, US Gear D-Celerator exhaust brake. Just hit 100k miles FOR SALE.
    14 3500 SRW 6.4 HEMI

  5. #5

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    Dennis. . . . . . Your ECM triggers the relays for your grid heater and it recieves signals from several sensors, in my case, I had to replace the air temp sensor on the intake manifold. You can also remove the intake horn. . . . switch key on and get a visual to see if the grid heater lights up. Sounds like you might have a coolant temp sensor misbehavin

    98 12V Reg. cab 4X4 Dooley SLT /5sp/4:10s/DPK/Phatshaft 62/70/DDP 75hp injectors/#11 plate/3 piece exh man/ 4" turbo back/3k gov spgs/16.5 timing

  6. #6

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    DennisRAnderson, I would take fuel pressure or fuel flow test of the lift pump (fuel pump).
    Bill Thomas
    Missouri Mule-96 Wht 4X4 ST CC,5 spd,3.54,8ft bed,1ft high cheater boards.
    99 Freightliner bl/wht FL60 ISB-5.9 24v,215 hp,520 tq,6 spd,3.59 nsr,16 ft box,19.5 tires,Wt/gvwr11000/23000

  7. #7

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    Your problem is a dealership service department with little or no knowledge of the Cummins engine.

    If the dealership told you they adjusted your computer they lied. There is nothing to adjust. Was your original grid heater not heating? They normally last a very long time.

    You could have nothing more serious than old and weak batteries. If your truck has original batteries replace them first. If that doesn't solve the problem find a dealer with a trained Cummins tech to run diagnostic checks. The HPCR engine is complicated and there are a number of possible causes.

    You post doesn't provide basic information needed like where do you live, how many miles on your truck odometer, has it been modified or is it pure OEM, overnight low temps, what type of fuel, fuel filters, engine oil do you use.
    Harvey Barlow

    2008 Ram 3500 SLT QC & Chassis w/ CM bed
    2007 HitchHiker Discover America 32 LKTG
    2010 Goldwing XM/Nav

  8. #8

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    Dennis, as Harvey said we don't know your location, give us the city your in, and someone here will have a shop to refer you to, it is clear the Dealer was clueless on your problem, once you do get it fixed you may have some recourse going to Chrysler.
    2012 Ram 3500 2 WD Laramie CC, DRW, Max Tow (SOLD)
    2005 Dodge Ram Laramie 4X4 3500 SRW (SOLD)

  9. #9

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    Before trying to start, disconnect the electrical connection from the FCA, it is the only electrical connection on your CP3 injection pump. Just squeeze the tab to release and pull, it will come apart.

    Now try and start, if it starts you have a low rail pressure condition, by disconnecting the FCA, you have fooled the ECM into believing you have adequate rail pressure. The ECM needs to see a minimum of 3. 5k rail pressure to fire the injector solenoids, by disconnecting the FCA, it by default raises your rail pressure to max pressure. After it starts, if it does, shut it down, you do not want to operate it with the FCA disconnected.

    Now you have to figure out why you have low rail pressure, faulty COV, PRV, RP Sensor, Loose cross tubes, bad injector(s) to name a few. I will add a link that will give you a better understanding than my rambling, but the first thing I would do, would be to re-torque the cross tubes. When the engine is cold the tolerance between the cross tube and injector is greater than when warm, thereby allowing more fuel to bypass and lowering rail pressure, when the engine is warm the fuel is thinner, so that could also bypass more fuel, kind of a double edged sword. Jess

    Here's the link;

    Dodge Cummins diesel diagnostic repair and diagnostic information for Dodge diesel pick-up trucks courtesy of Oregon Fuel Injection
    2003 3500 SRW, DTT 48RE
    5" MBRP Exhaust, Dipricol Gauges
    RideRite Airbags, 4.5" Lift, 35/12.50/18 Toyo MT's on 18 x 9.5 American Eagles.

  10. #10

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    My guess is Dennis needs a recommendation for a good dealer service department or independent mechanic who knows and understands the Cummins diesel engine more than he needs suggestions for diagnosing it himself.

    Hopefully, if he tells us where he lives one of our members will either live nearby and be able to help him or give him a good recommendation.
    Harvey Barlow

    2008 Ram 3500 SLT QC & Chassis w/ CM bed
    2007 HitchHiker Discover America 32 LKTG
    2010 Goldwing XM/Nav

  11. #11
    Thank you all for your suggestions. The truck has 167,000 miles. Batteries have plenty of starting capacity. I am traveling with an RV now and I found a recommended diesel mechanic service and I hope to have them analyze the problem tomorrow The consensus of opinion from mechanics I talked with today and from some of your comments lead me to thinking the problem could be something as simple as a faulty fuel injector gasket or could be as expensive as requiring all new fuel injectors. I am not qualified to test or work on this myself, but since the dealer and a local mechanic couldn't figure it out, I was getting frustrated and wanted to get some idea of what the problem might be so that I am not getting "taken" again by the next mechanic. So, I will post another note after I have another mechanic evaluate the problem and I'll let you all know what happens! Stay tuned. . .

  12. #12
    Problem solved! Someone I met along the way suggested I try a diesel additive. For $20 I bought an 80-ox container of "Power Service Diesel Kleen"

    and I used about 20 oz. when I filled up the tank, and other 10 oz. when I filled up the tank again later in the day. The following a. m. I didn't plug in the truck and it was about 50 degrees outside when I went to start the truck, turned the key and it started right up! Hopefully, I'll have the same luck again tomorrow.

    If not, I'll be back on line with more comments. Thanks again for all your comments and I'll refer back to them if I need to start over.

    Incidentally, I'm not the Dennis Anderson that races monster trucks!

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